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Jan 24, 2015

No Snowy Owls ~ but a Rough-legged Hawk


I have been on the lookout for irrupting Snowy Owls every day so far this winter, particularly in the Holland Marsh, but have not seen one yet.   Monday of this week was another unlucky day but I did spot the Rough-legged Hawk, seen above.   I had to be satisfied with these skyward shots as the female bird would not come to ground or perch on any fence posts.   This is normal behaviour for Rough-legged Hawks, whereas other Buteo hawks rarely hover.   Not only do 'Roughies' hover and hunt, like Snowy Owls, but they also occupy the same kind of hunting territory in winter.   In this part of Ontario, that means open fields and marshes.   Further north and west they are to be found on plains and tundra.   Snowy Owls and Rough-legged Hawks feed on similar prey and are especially partial to lemmings and voles.   When the supply of these prey creatures is good, Rough-legged hawks can produce six or more chicks, but in low lemming years, the nests of these hawks can fail entirely.
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